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Pay Equity Matters: Mind the Gap

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy just signed the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act, which was recently passed by the state legislature. His signature today means New Jersey’s antidiscrimination law will soon be expanded to prohibit discrimination in pay on the basis of any of the protected categories recognized under state law.

A California state court just breathed new life into a class action lawsuit against Google that could have a significant impact on pay equity claims across the country. The March 27, 2018 ruling gave the stamp of approval to an amended complaint filed by former female Google employees alleging unequal pay practices. The court ruled that the amendments, which focused on Google’s supposed uniform pay practices, were sufficient to meet the pleading standard and state a cause of action for a class-wide unequal pay claim.

The parties to a high-profile Equal Pay Act lawsuit have reached a multi-million dollar settlement that will be sure to capture the attention of employers across the country. Former partners of the law firm Chadbourne & Parke LLP (now part of Norton Rose Fulbright) resolved a pay equity lawsuit against their former law firm, but the settlement left unanswered the question about who is considered an “employee” under the Act.

Hours after being sworn in as New Jersey’s 56th governor yesterday, Governor Phil Murphy signed an executive order prohibiting public employers from inquiring about a job applicant’s current or prior salary. In doing so, New Jersey follows in the footsteps of other states, cities, and counties (including Albany County, New York, California, Delaware, Massachusetts, New York City, San Francisco, and Oregon) that have enacted similar laws applying to both public and private employers.

A group of former Google employees just filed an amended complaint in California federal court in an attempt to breathe new life into their equal pay class action lawsuit, which had been dismissed in December for failing to sufficiently allege facts demonstrating an ascertainable class. The pay equity world will now have its collective eyes on Google to see how the company responds, and to follow the latest chapter in one of the most high-profile pay equity claims ever filed. 

When you combine an increased social awareness of pay disparity issues with an influx of new pay equity legislation at the state and local level, it’s no surprise that lawsuits involving large and high-profile employers are popping up in the headlines on almost a daily basis. Regardless of the size of your organization, you shouldn’t be surprised if your employees begin asking questions about their pay, challenging your compensation practices, or even file a lawsuit.

Google, Inc. (“Google”) is the latest high profile employer in an onslaught of class actions by female employees alleging systemic discrimination in pay against women. Coupled with the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Program’s (“OFCCP”) investigation into Google’s pay practices and the recent media firestorm over a memo by a disgruntled male (now former) employee, this class action lawsuit has brought Google’s compensation practices into the spotlight.

Tags: Equal Pay

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